You have a blog, mailing lists, thousands of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and ensure your messages are always informative and entertaining, but are your efforts translating to book sells? Enough sells to give you a high return on investment? You should be able to draw a direct correlation between promotion/marketing campaign you run for your title(s) and your book sells. You will not be able to get exact numbers, but you can measure what campaigns are increasing your sells and which are not. How? Analytics—aka the numbers game. Resist the urge to leave this discussion. I know many of you hate numbers or think you can’t understand them, but don’t give up before starting.
To make this easier for you, I’ll use myself as an example throughout. There are tools that I use such as Mail Chimp and Hootsuite that I mention from time to time, but don’t feel as if these are the only tools or even the best tools for your needs. Do your research and mix and match until you find what works for you. Once you understand the concepts, you can go out there and find what you need. Now let’s play the numbers game.
If you are a self-published author, whether you use Amazon, Barnes & Noble or whoever to sell your books (electronic and print), you should have access to reports that detail your sells. Many times these reports will show you your sales for the day. Whenever you run a campaign, be sure to watch your sells numbers. Hopefully, they will rise during the campaign. If you are not a self-published author, the best I can do is say watch your Amazon numbers on the product page of your book if that is where you are sending readers. Just remember that those numbers aren’t instantaneous.
I sent an announcement to one of my mailing list about my new title that included title information, purchase links and links to my website. The next day, I had a very nice showing on sells of that title. But did those sells have anything to do with the mailing list announcement?
Yes. It had a lot to do with that great showing. I know because I use Mail Chimp for my email list and it has an excellent set of reporting tools. The report clearly states how many peopled opened the announcement email and how many times each person opened it.
Great, so people opened my email—big deal.
Here comes the important part. The report shows click through rate, meaning it indicates how many times each link within the email was clicked. After all, what good is your email doing if people aren’t taking action from it? You want them to go to take the needed steps to purchase your book(s) and/or visit your website. To my great pleasure, the purchase links were clicked numerous times. Though this does not tell me if the person ultimately purchased the book, it does tell me they were interested enough to visit the purchase page. It also showed me people were interested in visiting my webpage and Facebook pages. The report also showed how many times the email was forwarded and all that good stuff.
So when you send out an email, is it opened? Are the people who receive it clicking through to find out more about your books or even purchase the book? If not, you need to find out why. First look at your list. Is it an opt-in list or did you just add everyone you had an email address for? Opt-in list will net you much more bang for the buck. Granted, opt-in list will not grow as fast as just adding names, but who wants a humongous list of people who aren’t going to purchase the book or even open the email?
Next look at your content. Is it informative? Is it interesting? What’s your call to action? Do you provide easy ways for your readers to purchase your titles and follow you online?
Finally, look at frequency. Are you sending out emails to your lists every day that repeat information—BUY MY BOOK. BUY MY BOOK? Have your emails become part of the noise that litters email inboxes and is ignored? Or do you rarely email your list and they’ve forgotten who you are? Finding that happy medium for frequency isn’t easy, but you need to find it for your audience.
Facebook/Twitter Type Media
In October I participated in an online discussion of one of my novels. I sent out an event invite to all of my “friends” on Facebook with the pertinent information and also posted the event several times on my Facebook wall. Did this translate to enough book sells or interest in my books to make it worth my time? Yes. And how do I know this? Because I use a tool called HootSuite, I draw statistic information from my website and I saw a bump in my sells numbers when running the campaign.
You can use Hootesuite for everything from scheduling posts on several sites (i.e: Facebook, Twitter) to in depth usage statistics of your social media accounts’ traffic. To get the full functionality of Hootsuite, there is a fee. I use Hootsuite for the posts scheduling and don’t truly use the statistic functionality, but it is there for you and extensive. Instead, I use the statistics from my website and sells information from my seller accounts.
When I do a social media campaign using Facebook or Twitter, I send potential customers to my website and/or somewhere they can purchase my title. Using my website statistics, I can see where incoming links were referred from and it breaks it down by URL. I can even see if someone is accessing my website from an email account. For example, it may say Facebook 6. That means six people from within Facebook clicked on a link and arrived at my website. Granted, you don’t know if your campaign directly sent those hits to your site or if someone else had a link to your site on their Facebook post that someone clicked on. If you just ran a campaign on Facebook, there is a pretty good chance the Facebook clicks to your website came from your Facebook campaign or from someone sharing your information about the campaign on their wall.
Are your campaigns getting you the bang for your buck? The pitfalls authors fall into with email lists are the same for other social media. Opt-in is always more productive than adding everyone whose information you can obtain. Be more than an infomercial, and contact people in a way that they look forward to your posts instead of wanting to run away.
Blog tours are all the rage, but do they give you the bang for your buck? How much time—thus money—are you spending answering questions. How much time are you spending promoting to your email lists and social media (people who probably already know what you will be saying on this interview). One sure way to find out is look at the numbers. When the interview ran, did your sales numbers go up? What about traffic to your website?
One of the benefits of a blog tour is the interview/guest post usually stays up for a substantial amount of time. Months after your interview when you look at your website statistics, you may see that interview is sending traffic to your site. Or that interview/guest post may have been picked up and used on other sites that are now sending traffic to your site.
There are basically three types of traffic you’ll receive on your blog/website. The “Usual Suspects” as I like to call them. These are the people who subscribed to your blog and/or RRS feed (another way to receive alerts regarding blog posts) and visit whenever you have a new post. Then there are those who are directed to your website from email campaigns, social media, interviews, search engines, other websites. The third set are the “Untraceables” as I like to call them. They somehow magically found your site by typing in the URL (web address). Seriously though, they were probably told about your website or saw some of your promotional materials with the website information.
The “Referred” statistic should become one of your best friends. I’ve found many hidden pockets of my target audience because my site was linked to (referred) from another site. And as I said, earlier, you can see if people are coming to your page from Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else on the web you hang out, including links within emails.
Page hits are important also. What pages are visitors of your site going to? Are there pages that receive little to no traffic so you should consider deleting them? Are your pages too long? When you ran a campaign and pointed readers to a specific page, did that page’s count increase? Did other pages on your site have an increase in hits also or are viewers coming to the one page, then leaving your site?
Click through. On your website you’ll have calls to action, such as links to purchase your book(s). Once the reader arrives at your website, are they clicking through to purchase your book(s)? What can you do to your site to increase your click through number? How’s that back cover blurb looking? Is it pulling in the reader? Do you have fantastic reviews? What about your cover? Is the information on your site fresh? What about the look? Is it easy for readers to purchase your book or do you hide the purchase links? Remember, purchase and mailing list subscription links strategically placed go a long way.
Who is visiting your site? Did you just send out a new posts so the Usual Suspects are around. These are your loyal reader base and visit your site, even when you don’t have a new title out, to see what you are up to. Did you recently send an email campaign about a new title? If so, are you getting sells? What about a Facebook or Twitter campaign? Is your event being shared and retweeted (Hootsuite can tell you this)?
I don’t want to throw you into information overload so I’ll end this here. Don’t be afraid to play the numbers game. Get in there and learn how to utilize the statistic tools available to you and master them.
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